Tales of Us - Goldfrapp
1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: Mute - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 09/09/2013 - 5099961576025
4 reviews from the community
Review of "Tales of Us - Goldfrapp"
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Apart from having a fantastic name, Goldfrapp have also had a reasonable amount of success since their formation in 1999. They've had 2 Grammy Award nominations and a Mercury Prize shortlisting and their latest album "Tales Of Us" is their 4th Top 10 UK album in a row. Although all of their albums have been characterised by Alison Goldfrapp's soft vocals and the musical arrangements they overlay, their sound has been in a constant states of flux, with very few of their albums sounding much like the ones that have gone before.The album opens with "Jo" which, after a synthesised opening, settles down into something that sounds a little like mediaeval music, with a simple, slightly plodding arrangement. If the musical background was provided by a harp, it would be something you might expect to hear backing up a Shakespeare play. Alison Goldfrapp's vocal is clear and gentle over the top, sounding a little like Kate Bush in places and this is a beautiful, relaxing opening to an album.
Next up is "Annabel", which runs a little more along the same theme, with a simple, mediaeval sounding backing, but this time on a stringed instrument rather than a keyboard, although I can't place the instrument used, as it sounds a little like an acoustic guitar, but not quite. The vocals are again smooth, with a breathy feel, but "Annabel" isn't as effective a song as "Jo", as the music is a little stronger relative to the vocal and the lyrics do get a little repetitive. It's still a song that drifts along pleasantly enough, though.From the start, "Drew" is a different song, with the tempo increased a little thanks to the guitar being a little more flowing. The vocal is still gentle and soft and once the orchestration comes in, the song develops an almost cinematic scope and wouldn't sound entirely out of place on a James Bond soundtrack if the vocals were a little stronger, particularly as there is an orchestral break half way through which seems to incorporate some of the James Bond theme. It's still a very well put together song, although I keep expecting Daniel Craig to appear from somewhere whenever I listen to it, so it's not quite as relaxing as the others as it has that film quality that suggests it's marking time for a piece of action.
There's an interesting synthesised opening to "Ulla", which is a song title that makes me smile having recently watched the film remake of "The Producers". For all the electronics and orchestration, however, this is another gentle and incredibly relaxing track that reminds me of some of Enya's work in the opening. The song does pick up in tempo and overall sound after a couple of minutes, but the gentle, breathy vocal anchors it to the relaxing feel and it can drift over you wonderfully and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.The Scandinavian song title tour continues with the Swedish sounding "Ulla" followed by the more Finnish "Alvar", although the guitar intro reminds me vaguely of an acoustic version of Christian rock band Petra's song "Beyond Belief". Whilst "Alvar" never becomes a rock song, it is stronger musically than many of the others, underpinned by the soft, breathy vocal of Alison Goldfrapp. The song seems to put most of what Goldfrapp do well all into one 5 ½ minute song, as there are elements of the mediaeval sound from earlier in the album, as well as a musical landscape that supports the vocals and which, once again, have their moments of sounding a lot like Enya and some electronic and synthesised moments that remind me slightly of Portishead in places. It's perhaps a little too busy a track to be as entirely relaxing as some of the others, but still quite enjoyable and despite being the longest track on the album by some margin, it doesn't outstay any welcome extended to it.
"Thea" picks up the tempo a little, but continues the Portishead theme with the psychedelic and electronic background, with a heavy drum beat that hasn't appears on the album thus far, making it sounds like something you may hear in a chill out room at a club. This isn't one of my favourites as the falsetto vocal is a little jarring and the music does overpower another breathy vocal and dance music isn't my favourite genre, but it's harmless enough for the most part.The album returns to something a little gentler with "Simone", which has a gentle piano introduction leading into the vocal. Once again, this is a wonderfully gentle song with the soft, breathy vocal helping it drift along almost effortlessly. There's a strange intimacy to some of the lyrics, talking about gently combing hair, and the whispered name in parts. Despite the slow tempo, this is a track that captivates and it seems to be over much faster than the 4 minutes it plays for as it's so easy to get lost in the moment with this one playing.
"Stranger" continues the slower tempo and the very relaxed feel of the album, although it breaks with the naming convention of the tracks by being the only one that doesn't have a person's name as the title. Once again, this is a very relaxed track, led by an acoustic guitar and the soft, breathy vocal. As with "Drew", there are moments where the orchestration seems to be playing something from James Bond, but fortunately this time it's a different section of music and doesn't take you out of the moment quite so much. What you're then left with is another relaxing song that drifts over and around you quite beautifully.The piano introduction to "Laurel" makes me think of Lionel Richie's "Hello", which certainly can't be considered a good thing. Fortunately, the song has a darker undertone to it than the one it evokes, but it retains the soft vocal and the slow tempo that has characterised much of the album and once again allows you to drift away on the song, as it's so gentle that the slightly darker feel doesn't impact on the listening pleasure.
The album closes with a slight increase in tempo with "Clay", which opens with an acoustic guitar in a similar way to "Drew". The breathy, soft vocal is an ever present and the orchestration is also a little busier and more interesting here. This is a song that feels restrained, as if it contains enough energy to explode into something else, but never gets free rein. It's an excellent piece of positioning in the track listing, as it means the album ends feeling as if there should be more to it, which makes me feel like I should listen to it again, which I mostly do.When I was much younger, I remember lying wrapped up warm and cosy in bed on a weekend morning and my Mum would have the washing machine or the vacuum cleaner running and the white noise would soothe me back to sleep of just make me feel somehow safe. In many places, I get exactly the same feeling from "Tales Of Us". This is not an album that you actively listen to as much as you put it on and let it affect you. You won't want to dance or sing along, but you may well find that, after a long day, many of the cares of the day will smooth away. "Tales Of Us", for me at least, is the aural equivalent of a soothing massage after a long run.
There's not an awful lot of variation here, but the album doesn't need it. It's not intended to be an album that will move you, it's intended as an album that will help you stop moving, stop rushing. This isn't just a club chill out album, it's a life chill out album. This is an album that will wrap you in its arms and rock your gently to sleep, unfurrow your brow and ease your mind. For £9.00 from Amazon or your local supermarket or £7.90 for the download from Amazon and £6.49 for a used copy from the Amazon Marketplace, this is great value for 10 tracks and 44 minutes of music that will soothe in a far healthier way than any Valium and in a much cheaper way than any massage.
Product Information : Tales of Us - Goldfrapp
Manufacturer's product description1 CD(s) - Electronic - Label: Mute - Distributor: PIAS UK/Arvato Services - Released: 09/09/2013 - 5099961576025
Listed on Ciao since: 13/08/2013